The Other McCain

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From Marco Rubio to Herman Cain: How the Crist Factor Hurt Perry in Florida

Posted on | September 25, 2011 | 22 Comments

Marco Rubio and Sarah Rumpf

Sarah Rumpf helped facilitate Florida state Rep. Scott Plakon’s endorsement of Herman Cain, which in turn helped Cain score his crushing upset of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Saturday’s Orlando “Presidency5” straw poll. Today, I spoke at length with “Sunshine State Sarah” to get the backstory of that endorsement, and she pointed out a little-noticed aspect of Perry’s humiliating defeat.

“Perry hired a lot of the Charlie Crist people,” she said, referring to former aides to the permatanned ex-RINO governor who got crushed in last year’s Tea Party uprising that sent Marco Rubio to the Senate. Among the Perry campaign’s top Florida hires, only Anthony Bustamante — who is “awesome,” Sarah said — was a known ally of Rubio.

While many of Crist’s ex-staffers were innocent victims of their boss’s stunning betrayal of the GOP, some of them — including some hired by Team Perry — were suspected as dirty tricksters. The Crist association gave a slight tinge of RINO-ism to the Perry campaign, undermining the Texan’s desired image as a solid conservative. So when Perry accused opponents of illegal immigration of being heartless, it stirred bitter memories of Crist’s “centrist” ways among those who had fought hard to elect Rubio.

Rumpf held one of the first Orlando-area fundraisers for Rubio’s campaign, and Plakon was also an early Rubio supporter. Both Rumpf and Plakon are backing Rubio ally Adam Hasner in the 2012 GOP Senate primary to take on Democrat Bill Nelson. It was during a Friday forum for the Republican Senate candidates that Plakon mentioned his idea of endorsing Herman Cain.

Rumpf was sitting with Plakon and his wife Susie (who has been a Cain fan for months), and Rumpf offered to connect Plakon with Cain’s campaign staff. Rumpf used Twitter to contact Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael in Atlanta, Carmichael gave Rumpf the phone numbers of Cain’s staffers in Orlando, including Nathan Naidu. That evening about 7 p.m., a private meeting was arranged between Cain and the Plakons, and the endorsement was announced at a jam-packed rally of Cain supporters at the Rosen Centre Hotel. Here’s Sarah’s video, recorded just before the endorsement was made public:

The impact of this endorsement should not be underestimated. He may not be well known (yet) outside the state of Florida, but he is extremely well-liked here and very active in conservative political causes around the state. Americans for Prosperity’s Florida Chapter named him their 2011 State Representative of the Year, and has been a leader in opposing ObamaCare, sponsoring the Florida Health Care Freedom Act. Scott Plakon is a solid fiscal and social conservative and has owned and operated several successful businesses; he is the exact type of state leader Republican presidential candidates should want on their team.

Plakon’s endorsement was an enormous boost for Cain on the eve of the straw-poll, and helped convince Florida Republicans that Cain is a legitimate presidential contender.

After the 2010 campaign, when state party chairman Jim Greer and NRSC chairman John Cornyn connived to “fix” the race for Crist 15 months before the GOP primary, rank-and-file Republicans in Florida have become sick and tired of being told to “get in line,” Sarah told me.

As for the meaning of Cain’s victory in the Orlando straw poll, Sarah said, “This was not a protest vote. This was not a temper tantrum.”

When I asked her about one interpretation that Beltway pundits have made of the Orlando results, Sarah was adamant: “Nobody was talking about Chris Christie — nobody.”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Bill Kristol.



22 Responses to “From Marco Rubio to Herman Cain: How the Crist Factor Hurt Perry in Florida”

  1. Joe
    September 25th, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

    Why would Perry hire Crist staffers? Unless of course Romney hired everyone else. I know Halloween is coming up soon, but orange people scare me.

  2. John Hitchcock
    September 25th, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

    I still think Cain is a place-holder.  But not a place-holder place-holder.  But people definitely did not choose Cain over Perry, who went to the Left, while awaiting Christie, who is to the Left of Perry.  There’s someone else ready to enter the race; someone more Conservative; someone with a history of getting rid of corruption; someone with a nation-wide grass-roots support structure already in place.

  3. Anonymous
    September 26th, 2011 @ 12:01 am

    This makes sense. I think this has a lot to do with late entry into race and trying to put together an organization on the fly.

  4. Anonymous
    September 26th, 2011 @ 12:13 am

    Why would Perry hire Crist staffers? Unless of course Romney hired everyone else.

    Kinda close to the mark, I think. Probably a lot of those Crist people also had other stuff on their resumes. Remember Crist endorsed John McCain in the 2008 Florida primary, breaking his promise to Giuliani. So Team Crist was also Team Maverick in Florida. These were the professional, respectable GOP operatives in the state, whereas the Rubio people were a bunch of amateur right-wing kooks (or so the Greer-connected Establishment types would have you believe).

    When a big campaign starts staffing up, the best job recommendation you can have is buddy who’s already working on the campaign. Once Team Perry hired the first Crist crony, it was sure they’d recommend their buddies from Team Crist. And Perry’s Texas people, not really in tune with the Florida grassroots, probably didn’t even realize they were sending a bad signal to the conservative grassroots.

  5. Joe
    September 26th, 2011 @ 12:14 am

    Jon Huntsman?

    Kidding! Jon Huntsman is the GOP primary choice for those with absolutely no inclination to vote GOP in the general election.

  6. John Hitchcock
    September 26th, 2011 @ 12:21 am

    Late entry into the race really doesn’t have anything to do with it, as Perry entered prior to the traditional campaign-starter.  It was Barack Hussein Obama, who in 2007 entered the race in 2006, who threw the campaign season for a loop.  Outlier.  And best to make it such now and in the future.

    Labor Day the year prior is traditionally the political starting point, with people coming in shortly before and shortly after.  February the year prior is not the starting point.

  7. Anonymous
    September 26th, 2011 @ 12:34 am

    Hey, I almost forgot: Sarah Rumpf is a lawyer and single. Also kinda tall, about 5-foot-8, but especially single. So if you know any tall bachelor types who might be in the market for a GOP lawyer wife in central Florida, she’s a prospect.

    Sarah didn’t promise to hit my tip-jar for doing the Right-Wing Cupid thing on her behalf, but nothing’s stopping the rest of you. IYKWIMAITYD.

  8. Adjoran
    September 26th, 2011 @ 1:18 am

    Excellent inside reporting! 

    I’ve never believed much in the power of endorsements, but as they go having Plakon endorse Cain was something of a seal of approval from a very solid and respected conservative, and at the perfect time for the straw poll.

    The first time I ever heard Sarah Rumpf’s name was during the Orlando debate – she was the one who tweeted the truth about the “booing” incident – but I’ve been hearing it a lot the last couple of days, and expect that to continue. 

  9. Anonymous
    September 26th, 2011 @ 1:23 am

    The key word, John, is traditionally. Campaigns this time around are already in full swing, and have been for months. Heck, O! never stopped campaigning.

  10. Joe
    September 26th, 2011 @ 1:36 am

    I think that is spot on.  Romney was badly hurt in 2008 by Crist, so he was not going to reward (or trust) any of Crist’s unemployed ummpa loompas.  Perry just stumbled in and hired these bozos.  He would have been better off with Texas carpetbaggers. 

    Then again, Perry would have been a lot better off with a decent debate performance last week. 

  11. Joe
    September 26th, 2011 @ 1:39 am

    Scroll down to Sarah Rumpf’s picture  (If you are going to play match maker Stacy, at least provide a picture!). 

  12. John Hitchcock
    September 26th, 2011 @ 2:10 am

    That’s really the point, innit. NObama has never stopped campaigning, and to start campaigning so devilishly early (modifier selection intentional) is absolutely not good for the country.  There needs be a campaign-free governing period, and to use NObama as the start of something new … well, you see how that played out everywhere else.

    No, the campaign season actually isn’t in full swing yet.  There are still big names sitting on the sidelines.  One big name, who is great for NJ but is a gun-grabber among other leftist positions, is apparently getting ready to be drafted.  Another big name, who sucks all the oxygen out of any room she enters, is still mulling over her decision.  (I now actually think she’s working out her entry point.  The Palin Paradox is involved.)  And there’s yet another (regionally) big name sitting on the sidelines who said he’d enter the race if the Thrilla from Wasilla entered.

    If Palin enters, new ballgame.  If Guiliani enters after Palin, he’s a foil is all.  And he sucks air out of the Romney balloon and not out of the Conservative/TEA Party balloon.  If Christie enters, Perry’s numbers don’t climb back up but Romney’s numbers fall, and the Conservative/TEA Party base is not voting Christie once those not already familiar with him find out about him.

    But no, the game has not entered “full swing” stage yet.  Heck, by my accounts the the opposing team bands haven’t marched onto the field to play the Star Spangled Banner just yet.  To this point, it’s all been pre-season shake-outs and making the cut.

  13. Christy Waters
    September 26th, 2011 @ 2:22 am

    Does that mean Huntsman scares you, too? He’s got quite an orange hue about him. There’s lots of reasons to be scared of Huntsman, being orange is only one of them.

  14. Joe
    September 26th, 2011 @ 2:45 am

    While chantrells are sort of golden yellow, orange mushrooms are generally toxic…

    I do not really fear Huntsman since I think he has litterally zero chance of being the nominee or veep.  He brings nothing.  I would not be surprised if Huntsman lost Utah to Huckabee (if Huckster was running).  

    And my joke below would have worked better if I suggested Huckabee to Hitchcock! 

  15. ThePaganTemple
    September 26th, 2011 @ 3:09 am

    This might explain why he’s doing so shitty in the debates. RINO advisers don’t believe in all that mean ol’ harsh talk. It might hurt people’s feelings. You reserve that for the people who are too stupid to know they’re being insulted, like conservatives, or are smart enough to know why you’re doing it, like your fellow RINOs. You never, ever, ever insult a Democrat or a liberal, especially one who is a member of a cherished minority group.

    Seriously, this does explain a hell of a lot. Like Crist’s tan, which they probably figure looks good on television, like AlGore’s earth tones. Boehner’s been crying his eyes out ever since he was talked into getting one.

  16. CoolChange
    September 26th, 2011 @ 5:50 am

    Cain had 3 Bad Debates after his good South Carolin debate. Cain is a really a rank amateur and has looked worse than Perry a lot of the time. I am waiting for Palin. A vote for Cain is one less vote that Romney needs.

  17. CoolChange
    September 26th, 2011 @ 5:51 am

    PALIN. SARAH PALIN. Yes. Yes. I am ready to fight for Palin.

  18. CoolChange
    September 26th, 2011 @ 5:53 am

    Cain and the federal reserve are troubling plus he looked like a moron on the second amendment. He is not presidential timber by a long shot.

  19. CoolChange
    September 26th, 2011 @ 5:55 am

    Cain reminds of a motivational speaker and has a huckster quality to him. Herman tells you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. The blowhard factor is high with Cain, maybe not as high as it is with Bachmann but still high.

  20. CoolChange
    September 26th, 2011 @ 6:02 am

    Cain supporter and lawyer are 2 Strikes.

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